ENERGY STAR and LEED are Redefining Homeowner Priorities
Energy efficient homes are becoming the new standard as energy prices continue to rise. Fortunately for homeowners, costs for renewable energy solution alternatives are going down as consumer demands rise. The trend toward home energy efficiency is becoming increasingly the norm for suppliers, contractors and homeowners.
ENERGY STAR and LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) are separate, but complementary, programs providing guidelines and resources for new standards in energy efficiency and sustainable design. Both help all types of consumers in the process of planning and implementing energy efficient buildings, which save money and protect the environment over time. Whether you are a homeowner or real estate investor, knowing the basic differences and similarities between ENERGY STAR and LEED will help you along the way in realizing greater overall home energy efficiency and savings.
ENERGY STAR Solutions for Homeowners
ENERGY STAR is a collaboration of the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and the U.S. Department of Energy—aimed at improving the energy performance in buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
An ENERGY STAR label—on appliances, heating, plumbing or building products—is an endorsement of superior energy performance based upon the strict ENERGY STAR guidelines. Buying ENERGY STAR products often includes rebates. ENERGY STAR also rates and certifies new homes, as well as providing consumers with free resources, tools and tutorials for home improvements.
Products with ENERGY STAR ratings can be more expensive to purchase than those made with less sustainable materials—but as consumers discover the lifecycle savings and comforts in higher energy efficiency, product prices are gradually going down.
LEED Strategies for Homeowners
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an international nonprofit of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). It operates worldwide to provide resources, standards and certification ratings for green building, both commercial and residential.
LEED focuses its green ratings beyond basic energy usage to a more comprehensive overall assessment of building performance—from the sustainability of a building site to landscaping and from water efficiency to indoor environmental quality. Green solutions include optimizing a home’s energy efficiency, but also optimizing elements like lighting and space design, resulting in a more aesthetic and comfortable environment.
LEED certified homes range from new construction to affordable remodels. They incorporate many ENERGY STAR products and materials, as well as include an increasing number of government incentives—including substantial tax breaks.
Lasting Resources for Homeowners and Real Estate Investors
The number of ENERGY STAR and LEED certified homes is growing, while ENERGY STAR products are the new convention. Homeowners and real estate investors benefit from the many free and paid resources available through both programs. While costs for energy efficient design and implementation can be initially high, savings pay off over time. Overall building performance is the goal—from design to construction and from operation to maintenance. Implementing even some of the strategies and products of ENERGY STAR and LEED results in substantially reduced energy consumption, lower bills and a more pleasant home experience.
Both ENERGY STAR and LEED provide homeowners and real estate investors with tools and resources for rethinking and remaking homes.
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